Week of July 10, 2017
With every book wrote, I always have reached a point, that I felt that I hadn’t made any progress. This was true this week for Coat Hangers and Knitting Needles, my creative non-fiction book about abortions in the US prior to 1973.
I spent most of the week transcribing two movies by Dorothy Fadiman:
Both films reaffirmed my belief that nothing, nothing, nothing will ever stop abortions.
When I hear the number of beds kept in major city hospitals for women who came in daily with botched abortions-20-30-and I multiplied it by the number of hospitals and the number of cities around the US, the numbers made me want to cry. I can only imagine the number of abortions that happened on top of those that went bad. I heard the statistic from more than doctors in different cities.
It’s frustrating that there is no way to know the number of illegal abortions that happened in any given year or decade for that matter of fact. Neither the woman nor the abortionist would report the statistics. I keep looking for statistics, but I get different estimates, but all are too many.
When Dr. Boyd said he performed thousands and Jane, a group of women who provided abortions said they had performed tens of thousands I know that--to use the cliché--the tip of the iceberg.
More and more I wonder why the Pro-lifers think changing the law will change the number of abortions. I don’t doubt their sincerity. I understand wanting to save babies’ lives. One woman in a film kept talking about how wonderful it was to hold her baby. I felt that way when my daughter, a wanted child, was born, although I did feel sorry for her because I didn’t have the slightest idea how to be a mother. We both survived me.
Not all mothers want their babies. Not all mothers protect and love their babies.
I think of friends who were adopted. And adoption is a valid alternative to abortion. Some had loving parents. In a few cases their lives were nightmares caused by the adopted parents.
The pro-lifers seem to simplify what is a not simple.
From the film I did get more wordage for the back cover. “There has always been abortion on demand. Wealthy women will find a place, perhaps in another country. Poor women will resort to back alleys. And if not there they will do-it-themselves."
I rearranged the information in When Abortions were Illegal. From a documentary point of view, breaking down the stories and mixing them worked well, but for print, I decided to put all the material from each of the people together for better story telling. I added a bit of information about Fadiman.
In From Danger to Dignity, I decided on a different approach—a series of quotes that people can scan read.
In both I found subject matter and peoples' names where I planned more research: Dr. Boyd, Lawrence Lader, Arlene Carmen and Howard Moody. Rev. Moody was behind the Clergy Counselling Service that helped women all over America. I’d read about him. I read material by him, and seeing his kind face and his sincerity makes me want to work harder.
The section on Sherry Finkbine, the woman who fought to have her baby aborted when she learned she’d been taking Thalidomine, had to go to Sweden.The fetus was serverly damaged. When she returned to the States, her living children needed FBI protection to walk to school because pro-lifers theatened to tear them limb by limb. I still would like to trace her down for an interview but if I can't this will give much information I need.
I also learned about Jane and Society for Humane Abortion organizations I didn’t know existed but it merits a chapter. If abortion is made illegal these organizations will spring up again.
When New York was about to pass an abortion reform law, the vote was tied. One brave politician (usually an oxymoron) sacrificed his politican career by changing his vote from no to yes. He may have saved hundreds of lives.
I am now listening to If These Walls Could Talk a full-length film covering 40 years in one house with the stories related to abortion.
I have a file for each chapter I want to write with notes as I come across material. When I finish a draft chapter, I transfer it to a book file. I was slightly reassured when I saw there are seven draft chapters done, that I am making progress, not just as fast as I want. That won't change.